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Doctors, lab experts weigh in on new LabCorp combined test for COVID-19, Flu and RSV

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Posted at 8:46 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 07:01:07-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - In preparation for flu season, LabCorp has launched the first combined test to find multiple types of infections, including the flu and COVID-19.

According to company officials, the test, launched last week, can help doctors diagnose patients and make decisions about treatment options.

“The U.S. is facing the most challenging health crisis in a century and is about to enter flu season, which has the potential to put additional strain on our healthcare system and cost lives,” LabCorp Diagnostics President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Caveney said. “Individuals infected with COVID-19, influenza A/B, or RSV, often experience similar symptoms of cough, fever, chest tightness, and body aches, providing a potential surge of patients seeking testing. Leveraging our scientific and technological expertise to simultaneously test for four major respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, will provide doctors a simple, efficient way to diagnose their patients.”

News 3 Medical Expert Dr. Ryan Light said he’s all for the test.

“What we need to know is whether it's COVID-19 or whether it's something else,” Light said. “It's a great tool to have coming into the season, so that we can reassure people of what they have and what they don't have.”

“A lot of the symptoms of these three illnesses really overlap a lot,” Light added.

According to LabCorp, the test simultaneously detects COVID-19, flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). RSV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a common respiratory virus usually causing mild, cold-like symptoms. The CDC adds it can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.

LabCorp officials told News 3 patient samples are collected using a nasal swab collection, and the average time to deliver results is 24 to 48 hours from specimen pickup.

“Almost universally, everybody is moving in this direction, knowing and expecting a very challenging respiratory season, and the testing that's going to be required to support that,” Eric Young, Director of Sentara Consolidated Laboratory said.

Young told News 3 they've been collaborating with vendors and suppliers about bringing in a similar test for their facilities, preparing for whatever could lie ahead.

“We really have to think through what is the worst-case scenario,” Young said. “If we do have a very heavy respiratory season, with flu, COVID-19, RSV, or some other virus, all of those individuals are likely going to be coming in to get tested because of the COVID-19 pandemic that's happening. So, we've got to be able to meet that need.”

Related: Local Influenza Task Force stresses to get your flu shot now

LabCorp has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to offer the combined test through its at-home test collection kit.

Meanwhile, Dr. Light encourages getting your flu shot and following health guidelines.

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